For almost 10 years Google Earth Enterprise allowed developers to build and host their own private maps and 3D globes. GEE Fusion, Server, Client, and Portable products gave users the ability to process, present, and analyze geospatial content in a very intuitive way. After two years in support and sustainment mode in route to deprecation, the need and interest in GEE was overwhelming enough to make GEE open source the ideal solution.
Google released the Google Earth suite under the Apache 2.0 license which frees up the open source community to modify to their heart’s content! With a very large user community still utilizing GEE within critical IT infrastructure, continued support and future enhancements are a boon that will give the community the freedom to operate well into the future.
Emerging map APIs that provide 2D and 3D functionality will open up a new world of possibilities for GEE serving up rich 3D experiences. Although Google will not provide an official SaaS solution around GEE open-source, the possibility of setting one up is very feasible.
A good proxy for the longevity and stability of an open-source project is to measure the strength of the open-source community around it. The good news with GEE is that it’s already off to a great start. The same team that worked with Google to transition GEE to open-source, Thermopylae Sciences & Technology’s (TST), is sustaining the project and growing a vibrant community around it.